- Wide range of engines to choose from
- None are particularly cheap
- Find out what we think of the ones we’ve driven
While Mercedes stated on the launch of the GLE that it expected the 250 d to be the most popular, AMG models are seriously successful too – particularly the 63 versions.
There’s a lot of kit on offer so ensure you tick the right boxes on the options sheet.
The best Mercedes-Benz GLEs we’ve tested
Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class 4x4 (15 on) GLE 350 d 4Matic AMG Line (tested by Gareth Evans, April 2018)
This version of the GLE uses the silky-smooth 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6 diesel that we think suits its character perfectly, and that’s great news. When coupled with the nine-speed automatic gearbox it’s very nice to drive, with a decent wave of torque meaning the ‘box doesn’t have to shift gears as often as you may expect considering there are nine to choose from.
The optional £950 electrically deployed towbar on this car is a hint towards this version having the highest braked towing capacity of any GLE, at the UK maximum (on a standard car licence) of 3.5 tonnes.
It’s got the Off-road pack (£1,985) too, netting a differential lock, air suspension with higher ground clearance, a low-range gearbox and an Off-road+ drive mode for the most extreme situations.
What's it like off-road?
We’ve tested this terrain-tackling ability close to its limits on a course designed to challenge even the most accomplished off-roaders and were astonished by its articulation and traction – the short overhangs keep the bumpers away from the ground when carrying out ultra-steep accents and descents, and the differential lock stops the engine’s 620Nm of torque from spinning away through wheels that aren’t gripping anything.
The trouble is, drive on the road this GLE begins the show its age. The drivetrain is great, but the chassis really struggles to keep this car’s two-and-a-bit tonnes of mass in check around corners, meaning you need to approach them slowly, and braced for movement.
Decent seats do help a little here, though. The cabin has also been improved with the Premium Plus package, which costs £3,695 and secures you automatic parking with a rear-view camera, a panoramic glass roof to let more light in, running boards down the sides of the car to aid access, Harman Kardon speakers, memory for the front seat positions, and keyless entry and ignition.
Driver-assistance is optional
This car’s got a suite of driver-assistance systems too. Bundled into the Driving Assistance pack (£1,695), active blindspot assist, automatic emergency braking, active lane-keeping and radar-guided cruise control should all be standard on the next-generation GLE.
We thought the Bang and Olufsen Beosound speaker system was a bit of a difficult sell, though. At £3,495 it sounds fantastic, but the Premium Plus pack’s Harman Kardon setup does too, and that’s around the same cost including all of the other features in the pack too.
Two-tone leather for £1,820 seemed expensive as well, given the GLE’s seats are great as standard and will be harder-wearing.
The Parkers Verdict
With close to £16k of optional extras installed on this car, you’re well into the realms of personal preference here – just make sure you understand the specs before heading to the dealer to make your choice.
And while this engine and gearbox combination impresses, the stark reality is diesel is becoming difficult to recommend now – particularly in the fact of excellent petrol propulsion in the form of the Mercedes-AMG GLE 43 4Matic, which starts at £70k. This car’s £74,330 as tested, so you’ll have to do some number-crunching to work out which will work best for your lifestyle.
Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class 4x4 (15 on) GLE 350 d 4Matic AMG Line Prem Plus 5d 9G-Tronic (tested by Keith Jones, March 2016)
Under this GLE’s bonnet is a fettled version of the 3.0-litre V6 diesel producing 254hp and a mighty 620Nm of torque from just 1,600rpm. Mind you, it needs it to haul the Mercedes’ 2,175kg heft, on its way to a top speed of 140mph. Sprinting from 0-62mph takes a hot hatch-like 7.1 seconds.
Mercedes cites the official 42.8mpg average in its claim that it's nine percent more fuel efficient than the previous ML350 BlueTEC, but we struggled to get it to climb higher than 32mpg on test. Emissions are quoted at 179g/km of CO2, placing this GLE-Class in VED band I, costing £225 annually after a first year fee of £350.
Paired to the diesel motor is a superb nine-speed automatic transmission, controlled by a steering column-mounted lever where other cars typically have a windscreen wiper stalk.
As it goes both up and down through the gears there’s a lack of jerkiness and hesitancy in its action – it always feels as though it’s in the optimum ratio and consequently it cruises quietly at motorway speeds.
Comfort-biased handling set-up
Airmatic suspension: even its very name invokes thoughts of cosseting comfort, which unsurprisingly turns out to be a Mercedes GLE forte. As well as altering the ride height automatically at speed – or manually to raise the car over less forgiving terrain – you can firm it up. Doing so doesn’t make it feel especially sporty; instead you’re more aware that road imperfections haven’t been ironed out as thoroughly.
Whisk the GLE through a series of bends and, while body roll’s largely kept under control, it doesn’t feel particularly wieldy in the way a Range Rover Sport or Porsche Cayenne seem to defy the laws of physics. It’s much happier when driven smoothly.
Our test example was also fitted with the optional £1,985 Off-Road Package consisting of a low-range gearbox function, underbody panelling and a specific Off-road+ driving mode. While the GLE more than ably traversed a rutted, grassy field, it’s a better machine on the road – just not an especially sporty one.
Generously equipped AMG Line trim
Before optional extras are added to the GLE 350 d’s AMG Line package, it’s already well-equipped, as you’d expect it to be for £56,280:
- Full LED head and tail lights with automatic main beam function
- Self-parking function – a boon for such a large SUV in urban environments
- Aluminium-finished roof rails, rear privacy glass and automatic wipers
- Comand infotainment system with sat-nav and controlling touchpad
- AMG-specific front bumpers, side skirts and 20-inch alloy wheels
The most disappointing aspect of the spacious interior is that while the seats are supportive and comfortable, they’re trimmed in Artico – that’s fake leather in layman’s terms. Hardly becoming of a car at this price point.
From the extensive options list, the Driving Assistance Package box has been ticked at £1,695. It comes with blind-spot warning and an active lane-keeping assist – which gently steers to prevent you leaving your lane – as well as Distronic Plus adaptive cruise control.
At £3,695 the Premium Plus Package adds an upgraded Harman Kardon 830-watt stereo, electrically adjustable front seats with memory function, a glass roof, keyless entry and rubber-studded running boards.
Both introduce features worth having but combined with the Off-Road Package they nudge the price up to £63,655.
The Parkers Verdict
In isolation, the Mercedes-Benz GLE 350 d AMG Line is an attractive package – it’s well-made, decently equipped (faux leather aside), very comfortable and less expensive to run than the M-Class it supersedes.
Unfortunately for Mercedes, the GLE’s in a very talented market segment: not only are the BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne more satisfying to drive, the Range Rover Sport feels more upmarket and is likely to prove more capable off-road.
Worked out which Mercedes-Benz GLE 4x4 is for you? Find out how to finance it:
March 2015 – M-Class renamed GLE-Class, with lineup including 500 e plug-in hybrid, 250 d and 350 d diesels and GLE 63 S performance petrol. Deliveries started in September, and trim structure was Sport, AMG Line and the full-fat Mercedes-AMG model.
March 2016 – Designo Line introduced to lineup as special edition. Only on sale for a few months, this model included some extra styling inside and out for a more exclusive look. It was offered on 250 d, 350 d and the AMG 450 model.
September 2016 – AMG 450 model renamed Mercedes-AMG 43 4Matic in line with other cars in firm’s range.
January 2018 – Range restructured to include Night Edition spec for 250 d, 350 d and Mercedes-AMG 43 and 63 S models. Features black highlights inside and on the GLE’s exterior. All other models dropped from sale.
- Loads of Mercedes dealerships nationwide
- Consider an approved used GLE from Mercedes
- Parkers Car Finance Calculator: Work out how much you can borrow
Buying a new Mercedes-Benz GLE 4x4
Take a long look at the trim levels and options available and ensure you’re choosing one which matches your requirements. There’s a huge amount to pick from on this car, and while many will boost resale values, other bits may do the opposite. Watch out for loud colours or those that suit an ‘acquired taste’, because they could make your car difficult to sell on afterwards.
And since there’s so much choice, it’s unlikely you’ll find exactly the car for you at a broker or online car supermarket. You might spot a couple of cars on offer, but you’ll have to put up with the spec they’ve chosen for you.
A Mercedes-Benz dealership is the place to buy a new GLE – the salespeople will be able to guide you through what’s available in each of the packs on offer and help you find the spec you need. It’s always worth doing your research first, though, so check out the Equipment section of this review to see for yourself.
If you’re going to tow with your GLE, make sure the engine you’re going for will be up to the challenge. Some have higher towing capacities than others, so get your head around it before hitting the dealership.
Car finance video: PCP explained
Buying a used Mercedes-Benz GLE 4x4
While there’s enough technology on this car for it to become a potential secondhand minefield, if you choose carefully it might make a fantastic used buy as you’ll be getting a huge amount for your cash.
Crucial things are ensuring all electrical and electronic systems are functioning as they should, and that the car has been regularly serviced and maintained by a respectable garage – preferably a Mercedes-Benz main dealer.
Find out too whether the car has been used to tow. The fitment of a factory installed towbar is a good clue here, and the idea is to find out just how much the car has had to drag. This could put extra wear on the transmission components, so will be something to factor into any deal you arrive at.
Some GLEs are going to come with huge wheels and low-profile tyres, which means you’ll expect both to be in perfect condition before buying the car. Make sure the tyres are correct for the car too, and not cheap ones put on just to help sell the car.
And always carry out a Parkers Car History Check to ensure there aren’t any hidden issues you should be aware of.
Selling your Mercedes-Benz GLE 4x4
With a premium car like this, it’s key that you spell out exactly what your car is when writing an advert. Include the spec, engine, mileage and also any optional extras that might tempt buyers. It’s worth making sure the car is clean and has had any minor damage repaired. If you’re asking for more than £20,000 or so, it might pay to get the car professionally valeted to ensure its paint is in tip-top condition.
You may find it easier to sell the car through the Mercedes dealer network, as they’ll have a database of people out there looking for cars like yours and will also be able to prepare it for sale if needs be. It’s likely this will incur extra cost, though, so factor it into your calculations.
Either way, make sure you know exactly what your car is worth with a Parkers Valuation adjusted for mileage and optional extras.